Personally, I handle it 1 of 2 ways:
1. Order the tasks I have to do based on importance and tackle one at a time, deliberately pushing the stuff I’m not working on yet out of my mind…
– or –
2. Let everything bounce around in my head until I crack and just want Little Caesar’s and Netflix.
People do the same thing when trying to eat healthy.
I’d like to say #1 is the norm, but #2 happens too frequently as well. Usually it comes after I read waaaay too much about healthy eating, try to be perfect for a week or two, and then I say “screw it” and eat out like 8 days in a row.
If you tend to get overwhelmed and have felt yourself tempted to stop pursuing a healthy diet, let me give you some pointers first!
Here’s what I would tell you to help keep you sane:
1. You Already Know the Big Things
- Quit eating out
- No white sugar and flour
- No boxed meals
- No canned meals (I could eat spaghettios cold… but I get weird looks from the wife)
- No vegetable oils
This topic is so large that some college degrees aren’t as extensive. Eating healthy is a lifelong endeavor, and you’ll still be learning new things years from now. That’s just the way it is, and you need to be ok with making incremental improvement.
But, the most impactful changes you can make are also the most obvious.
Admit it, before you ever read anything about healthy eating, you knew Hamburger Helper couldn’t be good for you. Or most other box foods that more closely resemble chemicals.
After making the big changes, celebrate what you’ve accomplished. Don’t focus on all the stuff you don’t know yet, and tackle it as you learn.
2. Start With the Easy Stuff
After The Purge, we literally had no idea what to eat. Something like “we should eat stuff that looks like food, I guess.”
I still remember the first two real food-ish things we bought were grass-fed beef and raw milk. From that day until now, that’s what we buy. No discussion. In fact, the rare times we’re forced to buy pasteurized milk or regular beef is when we’re jolted out of our routine.
It’s like learning how to swing a golf club. If you’ve never swung one before and I ran through everything you’ll ever need to know, you’d probably fall over your first time swinging.
Instead, I’d teach you a few basics. Master those, and I’d give you a few more.
Treat real foods like that too, or you’ll go crazy.
The easiest changes are the ones that you understand and think you can handle. Make those an automatic part of your lifestyle.
The weird stuff, like making sourdough starter or what type of soy sauce to buy can wait for another day.
Maybe a year from now those will be automatic in your life, too.
3. If You’re Not Sure, Buy the Cheap Stuff
Here’s a weird tip.
Don’t buy something at a health food store just because you’re in a health food store.
If you’ve never researched what type of cheese to buy, don’t read a couple labels at the store and spend $8.99/lb on something you’re not sure about. Getting food nutrition advice from a food company’s label is like a zebra getting advice from a lion about how to avoid getting eaten.
It’s sad, but health food stores and healthy labels are often a gimmick designed to create income. Sure, a label might read “all-natural” but still have high fructose corn syrup and soybean oil.
We’ve fallen into that trap before, and it’s disheartening to waste money, only to find out you’ve been fooled. If you’re not completely sure, don’t break the bank. Eating regular eggs one more time won’t kill you – better to buy the cheap stuff than spend $4 a dozen on “cage-free” eggs that aren’t any better for you.
Research so next time you can be sure you’re spending money on the good stuff.
4. Read an Article a Day
If I were to write down all the stuff you needed to know about real foods, your head would explode. You can’t possible learn it all in a day, a month, or even a year (I know, I’ve tried).
It’s a constant journey that requires you to sift through all the conflicting information out there and decide what makes the most sense.
If you’re not sure whether you should eat meat, read a dozen articles on the topic. Read stuff from both perspectives and make an informed decision.
Set a goal to read at least one blog post or book chapter per day, and be ok with that pace.
You’ll definitely freak out a few times. You’ll be at the store and think “I remember reading something about soy sauce, but I can’t remember what it was!”
Just buy what you’re used to, and make a note to study up later. You’ll go insane otherwise.
I hope you’re getting that the main point is to relax, take your time, and make small changes.
You’ve probably eaten crap food for most of your life. I know you’re anxious to make changes, but don’t rush it – you’ll probably overwhelm yourself and quit trying to eat healthy altogether.
One thing that helped me at first was realizing that even one small change could make a difference.
After cutting out vegetable oils, I would tell myself, “Self, even if I never make another change, I’ll be healthier than before. Good job!”
Then, I’d usually realize that the change wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be and move onto something else.
After a few months, you’ve revamped your diet and your health.
Stick with it because it’s worth it!